Just when I thought that the exteriorization of the mind was a new development, mainly possible in science fiction movies, I find out that it has been with us from the beginning of humanity’s existence. Perhaps, this may sound a little hyperbolic, though not completely off the mark.
Basically, I have just started exploring this idea of mnemotechnics, which explores the ways in which humanity has adopted to multiply technologies that forms the basis of one’s reality. In discussions on mnemotechnology, this development refers to an individual’s constructed reality via cognitive learning, memories, perception, feelings, and experiences. It is a bit of a mouthful, and one, which I have not completely and utterly understood. Having said this, I have encountered some competing debates that I will aim to tackle within this Blog.
Firstly, mnenotechnologies, taken from Bernard Steigler’s understanding is taken to be a technological apparatus that assists with the cognitive, or societal processes of humanity. As a far-fetched example, I like to think of the movie Total Recall (2012), in which a company sells the idea of creating any dream a person desires. However, on a simpler case mnemotechnices in the past, and present have included alphabet writing to modern day technologies such as, the IPhone where the technology has worked as an “extension of one’s mind” (to use David Chalmer’s explanation).
These mnemotechnologies have been criticized and loved by different theorists, but when analyzed from a pure observational point of view it is evident that it they are ubiquitous. Some of my best memories are stored on my hard-drive, the Internet and on paper, as well as hidden at the back of my mind. In addition to this, some of my future is also stored on the above mediums and at the back of my mind, and at present my mind works to think about various “things”.
On the one hand, it could be said that these mediated mnemotechnologies were already on the rise during the Industrial age, where philosophers were observing the rapid mechanization of society and decay of humanity. On the other hand, the idea that humanity’s cognitive processes have developed via more sophisticated, individualized mnemotechnologies has only added to humanity’s culture. These thoughts, that I have thought to uncover, have stemmed from a couple of articles, primarily, Stiegler, Bernard (n.d.) ‘Anamnesis and Hypomnesis, and Andrew Murphie’s ‘The Mutation of “Cognition” and the Fracturing of Modernity.’
To choose between one of these questions, is to delve into one’s life, which would be defined by the media ecology that they are, and have been exposed to. To elaborate, I will quickly describe a media ecology, which relates to a contextual understanding. It’s about the interrelationship between media environments and communication. To throw out an extreme example, when thinking about Max Weber, or Marx’s perspective of rapid machination that led to the loss of humanity, one would think of the mass media, or hierarchical societal systems that replaced creativity with bureaucracies. This period was perhaps relevant at the time of their writings, but now in the present day they have been less associated with the modern/present times. For example, in media studies I have come across the idea that mass communication has been replaced with citizen journalism. This follows, that at the present time of writing, society is can be thought of as being identifies with liberalism, or post-modernism.
Although, this is my cue to say that I negotiate my life with various mediated mnemotechnologies that define my past archived memories. I prefer to say that I do not conceive a future with media oligarchies that aim to aggregate all types of information into one (or multiple) database. Although this may sound too conspiratorial to be true, the choice in the matter is that mnemotechnologies are created and not too forget, bought. One needs to buy a phone, a Sim card, purchase Internet services and modern day electronics.
I recognize that since the beginning of humanity this has not been the case, but even a piece of paper with various scribbles of thoughts got the likes of Galileo, and Martin Luther into trouble. I will have to confess that, to a large extent, the way the mind has been brought into technological apparatuses is a little disconcerting. Just think of the movie, Eternal Sunshine of A Spotless Mind, and the pain and stress (or no pain and stress) that Clementine had to go through just for a little shift in life’s experiences.
Website: The Media Ecology Association, http://www.media-ecology.org/
Chalmers, David (2009) ‘The Extended Mind Revisited [1/5], at Hong Kong, 2009’, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8S149IVHhmc
Murphie, Andrew (2005) ‘The Mutation of “Cognition” and the Fracturing of Modernity: cognitive technics, extended mind and cultural crisis’, 2(2), September, http://scan.net.au/scan/journal/display.php?journal_id=58
Stiegler, Bernard (n.d.) ‘Anamnesis and Hypomnesis: Plato as the first thinker of the proletarianisation,’ http://arsindustrialis.org/anamnesis-and-hypomnesis, accessed March 2013